A 75-year-old man was “tricked” into going to Isis-controlled territory in Syria along with his cancer-suffering wife and 10 of their relatives, the couple’s son has claimed.
Shalim Hussain said his father, Muhammed Abdul Mannan, had been in tears while speaking on the phone after he was taken to Syria from a hotel in Istanbul.
Mr Mannan was pictured holding up his index finger in an apparent show of support for Isis last weekend, and the Islamic extremist group issued a statement purportedly from family members in which they said they felt “safer than we have ever felt before”. However, Mr Hussain dismissed the photograph as “pure propaganda” in an interview with ITV News.
“My Dad is confused, sad and he’s worrying, crying every day, not in peace,” said the Luton resident. “My dad is a very old man, 75. He doesn’t need this. He doesn’t want to be in that country – I know, everybody knows. It’s not him, it’s not him. He’ll never agree to go to that country unless somebody tricked him into it.”
The other missing members of the family are the couple’s daughter, Rajia Khanom, 21, their sons, Mohammed Zayd Hussain, 25, Mohammed Toufique Hussain, 19, Mohammed Abil Kashem Saker, 31, the latter’s wife Sheida Khanam, 27, as well as Mohammed Saleh Hussain, 26, and his wife Roshanara Begum, 24, and three children, aged between one and 11. Addressing the family group directly, Mr Hussain, who spoke through tears for much of the interview, said: “Please come back. We are missing you badly, all of you, especially my dad, 75 years old, and my mum, she is very poorly as well, she’s got cancer.”
The 12 relatives were returning from a trip to Bangladesh and had stopped off in Istanbul, commonly used as a stopping off point for Islamists heading to Isis territory.
They were staying in a hotel when a group of men came, apparently to check their passports, Mr Hussain said. The family were then taken downstairs one by one.
“At the last moment, my parents were confused, [saying] ‘Where are you taking my family, where are you taking my children?’ They [the men] were saying, ‘Don’t worry, go back to England,’” he said.
“When they said that, they [his parents] just started crying and saying, ‘What are you talking about? I want my family, I want my children’. They begged and begged and suddenly they [the men] said, ‘Okay come with us’.
“Once they had taken them outside, there were two cars. They put them in the two cars and drove them away.”
Asked if someone in the group had shown signs of being a supporter of Isis before they went to Syria, Mr Hussain said had seen “nothing unusual”.
“If I did, I would have stopped it. Police could not find anything radical, no proof, nothing suspicious,” he added. “If it was something not normal or suspicious then it would have gone through my head, but there was nothing. No signs. If there was a sign I would have picked up on it.”
Mr Hussain said his family’s absence was “such a bad feeling”.
“I cannot describe it– it’s like something empty in the heart, something really missing,” he said.
“We all miss them, we’re all lost without them.”
The Mannan family include the oldest and youngest British people to have gone to live in Isis-controlled territory.
Ms Khanom was stopped at the airport by police on the day before the family was eventually allowed to fly out from Britain on the trip to Bangladesh.Reuse content